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M E M O I H 












APRIL, 1866. 

W "^^ ^ -w-A-Pi* X) E 1= -rft. li T ivE E nsr T . 


18 5 6. 



Introductory Remarks. 

Inland Route from Fort Capron to Fort Jupiter, 
Inland Routes from Fort Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale. 
Route from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Dallas. 

Routes from Fort Dallas to the Western Border of the 

Routes through the Big Cypress Swamp. 

Routes from the Big Cypress Swamp to the Caloosa- 
hatchee River. 

Route from Fort Thompson to Fort Meade. 

Route from Fort Meade to Fort Myers. 

Route from Fort Myers to Fort Jupiter. 



A CONSIDERABLE portion of the State of Florida, south 
of Tampa Bay, is a comparatively unknown region. Its 
natural features oppose great obstacles to the prosecution of 
surveys and explorations; and, although many have been 
from time to time accomplished under the direction of dif- 
ferent commanding officers of the troops stationed there, the 
results have not all been connected, nor embodied into an 
available form. Sketches of the country have been made, 
undoubtedly in all cases, by officers who have accompanied 
the examinations, and these have subsequently been com- 
piled, and, where authority was given for it, published. 
The maps thus furnished have, however, been necessarily 
constructed upon a scale too small to exhibit more than the 
general features of the country, and the lines traversed have 
been plotted from surveys made either without instruments 
or with those of the roughest description. The written re- 
ports, which would give more specific and complete details 
and supply information that the surface of a map could not, 
have rarely been published, and have existed only in the 
archives of the department. They could not therefore be 
made available to officers in the field, and would be, under 
any circumstances, difficult to refer to ; for, many of them 
relating to expeditions undertaken for other objects than the 
exploration of the country, the material collected, at different 


times, in regard to the topography, would be scattered 
throughout numerous and extended reports, embracing other 
subjects, and covering a long interval of time. As a large 
portion of the region is submerged during some seasons of 
the year, trails and other local marks are soon obliterated ; 
and, when new troops have been ordered into the country, 
they have been obliged to purchase the knowledge, possessed 
by their predecessors, with a fresh expenditure of time, hard- 
ship and danger. Extensive reconnoissances were made 
along the coast and in the interior, during the years 1841 
and 1842, at which time the south-eastern and south-western 
shores, the Everglades, the Big Cypress Swamp, Lake Okee- 
chobee, and the adjacent region, were traversed in various 
directions by ofiicers of the army and navy, and much ac- 
complished towards the topographical development of the 
State. Many similar explorations, some of them attended 
with great difficulties, have been recently made, under the 
direction of Cols. Munroe and Brown, Second Artillery, by 
the ofl&cers of their commands. JViost of these have appeared 
to be over an unexamined country, though a comparison of 
the reports and sketches with those that were made in 1842 
shows that some of the routes passed over at the two periods 
must have been nearly identical. Had the parties last in the 
field possessed, in a form suitable for reference, all of the in- 
formation gathered by those who preceded them, their labors 
would probably have been much lightened. 

During the compilation of the accompanying map, a num- 
ber of reports, made by the officers above referred to, have 
been obtained from the Adjutant General's Department, and 
it has been thought desirable, from the considerations 
mentioned, to extract the topographical information con- 
tained in them, and to present it in a connected form. Such 
material as could be procured from other reliable sources has 
been appended. The short time allowed for the work has 
precluded anything like a thorough investigation as to what 
is now known of the region in question; those facts only 


being presented whicli were at hand or could without delay 
be collected. For convenience of reference and to conform 
as nearly as possible to the original reports, the lines of com- 
munication referred to in them have been separately taken 
up, and in connection with these is mentioned whatever 
could be learned concerning the adjacent localities. The 
country considered being, for the greater part, a flat expanse, 
where the prairie of one day may at another be converted 
into a lake, and where the lakes, rivers, swamps and ham- 
mocks are subjected to such changes as can be produced by 
an additional layer of water of a depth sometimes as great 
as three feet, all statements relating to its surface are liable 
at times to considerable modifications. 


Fort Capron is situated on the west bank of Indian River, 
opposite to Indian River Inlet. The site of the post is upon 
hard ground, a few feet above the surf\\ce of the water. The 
Inlet is open. The bar at its mouth can be crossed by 
vessels whose draught is not greater than four and a half 
feet. The location is a healthy one at all seasons of the year. 
Half a mile back from the Fort runs a small ridge, its general 

♦This route was traversed and reported upon by Maj. Prince, U. S. A., in 1P54 and by 
Lieut. Hill, First Artillery, in 1855. The description of it here given is an abridgment of the two 
reports; the former of which was obtained from the records of the U. S. Coast Survey, and 
the latter from the Adjutant General's Department, U. S. A. 


direction being nearly parallel to the line of the coast, ex- 
tending northward to the head of Indian Eiver, and south 
almost to St. Lucie Point, at the junction of St. Lucie River 
with St. Lucie Sound. To this place, about twenty-three 
miles below Fort Capron, the river is a straight reach of 
water, varying in width from one to three miles, exposed to 
the wind, and navigable for full four feet draught. Four 
miles and a half from Fort Capron, the ridge above referred 
to comes to the water, forming a bank, twenty feet in height, 
which is the site of Fort Pierce. The growth on the shore, 
between the two forts, is pine. South of the latter post the 
ridge is covered with hammock growth, and, two miles below, 
rises to the height of forty feet, where is the old Indian 
Garden. Along the ridge, in this vicinity, are a few dwell- 
ing houses : the inhabitants of these, with the light hou?e 
keeper at Cape Canaveral, are the only settlers upon the 
coast, from the canal, ninety miles above Fort Capron, to the 
Miami River^ more than a hundred miles below. 

Nine miles south of the Indian Garden, there is a high 
point of the ridge, which is bare and dotted with patches of 
white sand, ("bleach yard,") and, two miles below, at Mount 
Elizabeth^ pine growth again appears upon the shore ; the 
ridge receding towards the St. Lucie River. Between Mount 
Elizabeth and Fort Pierce, it borders the river, formijag 
a steep high bank, covered with cabbage, palmetto, and 
other hammock growth. Along the top is a narrow strip of 
cultivable ground, from which there is a rapid descent, in- 
land, to an open country, covered with flagponds, savannas, 
sawgrass, marshes, and palmetto flats, with a few scattered 

From Fort Capron, the beach on the inside is remarkably 
serrated, and lined with high mangroves that shut out 
the view towards the ocean. 

The St. Lucie flows between banks formed of coquina* 

♦ A concrete of shells. 


rocks and rising about six feet above the water's edge. 
Along these is a growth of palmettos, and the neigbborhood 
is a famous resort for turkies and the manatee. 

Upon leaving St. Lucie point two openings present them- 
selves. The one to the left is that which is to be followed; 
being the entrance to the Jwpiter Narrows. This entrance is 
opposite to Gilbert's Bar, which is now closed, as there is 
little more than one foot of water upon it at the highest tides. 
Following the channel somewhat over a mile, it opens into a 
bay three-quarters of a mile broad, and about two miles in 
length ; the western shore of which must be coasted till a 
narrow opening, not exceeding twenty feet in width, is per- 
ceived. This baj'ou continues but a short distance before it 
is joined by another, somewhat wider, from the right. 

The Narrows are exceedingly tortuous, winding in large 
bends through swamps grown up with, lofty mangroves full 
sixty feet in height, whose branches nearly meet from the 
opposite sides of the stream. The water is of considerable 
depth, and the current strong, setting either way with the 
wind, the prevailing direction of which along this portion of 
the coast, for six months of the year, is south east. The 
Narrows extend about six miles, terminating at Hole Sound. 
At this point lies an extensive oyster bed, that precludes the 
passage of boats drawing more than three feet. 

Hobe Sound is skirted on the west by high hills covered 
with oak scrub, while the beach that borders the opposite 
side is a thick hammock that extends four and a half miles 
to the south. Where the hammock ends, there is a narrow 
place in the sound, occasioned by a sharp point of mangroves 
which puts out from the west shore from near the base of a 
hill, sixty feet in height, that rises rapidly from the water. 
This place is called Couch's har, and the greatest depth of 
water upon it is about three feet. 

The Sound is sufficiently exposed to the wind to admit of 
the use of sails, and in most places is easily navigated by 
vessels of four feet draught. It extends for eight miles to 


Jupiter River^ from the mouth of which it is about two and 
a half miles to the site of Fort Jupiter. 

The total distance from Fort Capron to Fort Jupiter, is 
about forty miles. The Mackinac boats, sometimes employed 
upon this route, are said to be unsuitable for the transporta- 
tion of troops and supplies between the two posts; having to 
lay by during a hard wind, and under the most favorable 
circumstances requiring four days to accomplish the trip. 
The kind of vessel recommended, as likely to be most ser- 
viceable, is a small sloop, not drawing over three feet when 
loaded, and made after the pattern of the old s urf boats, 
used, during the Mexican war, at Vera Cruz. 


Old Fort Jupiter stands upon the southern shore of Jupiter 
Elver, about three miles from the bar at the mouth of the 
Inlet. It is upon the western point, formed by the junction 
of Jupiter River and Jones's Creek^ a stream that rises three 
or four miles to the south. The land in the immediate vi- 
cinity is grown up with thick scrub, and is bare of timber. 
The back country is a high pine region, through which the 

* The information here given is taken from a. journal kept by Lieut. Humphreys, Topogra- 
phical Engineers, while passing over the line, in company with Capt. Wade's command, in 
1H41. The description of the localities in the immediate neighborliood of Fort Jupiter, is 
from the reports, already referred to, of Major Prince, and Lieut, Hill, First Artillery. 



old road to Fort Von Swearingen may still be distinctly 
traced. Half a mile distant from the old Fort, upon the 
eastern point made by the creek and river, is the new post, 
now called Fort Jupiter. Here the pine land is still niore 
elevated, and continues so for five miles back; the timber 
coming down to the water's edge, and the water itself being 
of sufficient depth for small boats, close in to the shore. 
Abundance of wood, suitable for building purposes, can be 
conveniently obtained. The soil is fertile. There is an ex- 
cellent anchorage, and a good place for loading and unload- 
ing boats, making the site of the present Fort preferable to 
that of the old one, or any other location in the vicinity. 

Objections exist to it now as a military position, from the 
fact that the Inlet is closed, and the post rendered inaccessi- 
ble, from the sea, to the smallest coasting vessels. The clos- 
ing of the inlet causes the locality— at other times salubrious 
—to be an unhealthy one ; the water on the inside of the bar 
then becoming fresh, and inducing a rapid growth of vege- 
table matter, which, decaying, taints the atmosphere and en- 
genders disease. The alternate opening and closing of this 
inlet is somewhat remarkable. Between the years 1840 and 
1844, it was closed. At the latter period, Capt. Davis, the 
mail carrier from Fort Capron to Cape Florida, endeavored, 
with a party of four men, to excavate a channel. After 
digging for several hours, they succeeded by nightfall in 
starting outward a stream of water four inches in depth. 
Upon this they desisted from labor and went to their camp, 
which was some fifty feet from the ditch. The river inside 
was unusually high, from a freshet in the everglades, and a 
strong north wind was blowing. At night, the sleeping par- 
ty were awakened by a flood of water, and had to abandon 
their camp equipage and run for their lives, barely escaping 
being carried out to sea. The next day there was a channel 
nearly a quarter of a mile wide, and the rush of water could 
be traced far out upon the ocean. 

The inlet stayed open till 1847, when it closed till 1853, 


during which year it opened itself, but remained in that con- 
dition only a short time. In 1855, Maj. Haskin, First Artill- 
ery, in command of the post, endeavored again to clear the 
channel. Sand hills of considerable size, which had accumu- 
lated, were cut through, and the attempt would doubtless 
have been successful but for the low condition of the water 
during that unusually dry year. A small amount of labor 
expended under favorable circumstances would, in all proba- 
bility, eifectually open this inlet, and render the harbor one 
of the best upon the eastern coast. At times it has admitted 
vessels drawing eight feet, and the entrance is protected from 
north winds by a ledge of rocks. 

Tioo inland ivater routes have been explored, between Forts 
Jupiter and Lauderdale; one, very near to the coast, and the 
other, some miles towards the interior. These were traversed, 
during the month of December, IS-tl, by Capt. Wade, with 
a command of eighty men. Both of the routes leave Jupiter 
Eiver b}^ Lake Worth creek^ the mouth of which is a mile 
and a half below the post. This stream, like most of the 
rivers in Florida, is exceedingly crooked, and, where it emp- 
ties into Jupiter River, is one hundred yards wide, and 
several feet in depth. It runs almost due north, with a 
strong current. Pine barren lines either bank for five miles, 
when on the east side a growth of sawgrass commences, ex- 
tending to the sea shore, which is about two miles distant. 
On the west the pine barren continues, but recedes a quarter 
of a mile back from the creek, which, at this place, is only 
forty feet wide. 

Two miles higher up, the two routes to Fort Lauderdale 
diverge. The stream being no longer navigable — except at 
YQry high water, when there is sometimes a practicable chan- 
as far as Lake Worth — it is necessary, in following the coast 
route, to pull the boats three-quarters of a mile in a south- 
easterly direction, through a sawgrass pond, to a haulover, 
four hundred yards across, which leads to the head of the 


lake. Over this haulover, Capt. Wade's command, with 
seventeen canoes, was three hours in passing. 

Lake Worth is a pretty sheet of water, about twenty milps 
long and three quarters of a mile in width ; bounded on the 
west by pine barren, and on the east by the sand hills of the 
beach, which are sometimes twelve or fifteen feet in height, 
and covered with cabbage trees, wild figs, mangroves, saw 
palmettos, &c., with here and there a variety of the cactus. 
In the centre of the lake, a mile and a half from the head, 
is an island, bearing a tree resembling the wild fig in appear- 
ance, with a fruit like the olive in shape and size, of a yellow 
color when ripe, and used by the Indians as food. A deli- 
cate running vine is also here found, yielding a vegetable 
about three quarters of an inch long, with a flavour similar 
to that of the cucimiber. Opposite to the middle of the 
island is a haulover, only eighty yards across, descending 
twelve feet to the sea, at an angle of fortj^-five degrees. Two 
miles and a half beyond is another haulover, one hundred 
yards in width. Below, along the eastern border of the 
Lake, are long strips of cultivable ground about two hun- 
dred yards wide, separated from the beach by ponds and wet 
prairie. These were formerly tilled by the Indians, who 
had large villages in the neighborhood. The soil is light, 
but very rich, being almost entirely vegetable mould. Kock 
occasionally makes its appearance on the surface, and heaps 
of sea shells are strewn here and there. The country on the 
west side would afford fine grazing. 

Six miles from the last haulover, on the west side of the 
Lake, is Chachi's landing. A broad trail, half a mile in length, 
formerly led from this place over a spruce scrub towards the 
villages of the Indians whose gardens were upon the opposite 
side of Lake Worth, which they reached by hauling their 
canoes over the trail. The last fields were five miles from 
the foot of the Lake. A small creek forms the outlet at the 
southern point ; along which, at ordinary stages of the water, 
boats can be paddled for only a quarter of a mile. They can 


then be pushed along the creek to its head, half a mile beyond, 
where commences asawgrass marsh through which they have 
to be hauled. Half a mile of hauling brings to a small clump 
of palmettos that can be seen for some miles and serves for a 
landmark. Another mile through the sawgrass conducts to 
a lagoon along which boats may be paddled for a, third of a 
mile; the lagoon widening into a little pond that is only a 
hundred and fifty yards distant from the sea. The ground 
rises abruptly twelve or fifteen feet and then descends rapidly 
to the surf. Under the mould which is but a few inches deep, 
there is rock, three or four feet thick; in one place rup- 
tured, forming a cave of twenty feet front, and extending back 
fifteen feet ; the bottom covered with water. Palmettos of 
enormous size and Spanish bayonets grow in the vicinity. 
Near by is an old haulover, used by the Indians in moving 
from Lake Worth to gather Koontee^ which grows in abun- 
dance on the pine barren to the west. A narrow sluggish 
sort of creek, five feet deep, extends from the pond for a quar- 
ter of a mile, over which distance canoes may be pushed. 
More than a mile of sawgrass marsh is then to be traversed 
before reachini? the Little HilUboro. 

The head of this creek is very narrow : wide enough to 
allow a canoe to lie in it, but not to be turned around. The 
banks are eighteen inches high, formed of snail shells and 
black mould. The prairie is three quarters of a mile wide 
and covered with thick grass. Canoes have to be pushed 
along for a mile and a quarter, when the stream becomes 
sufliciently wide to admit of paddling. A quarter of a mile 
below is Orange Orove Haulover. A small mound marks the 
spot, and among the trees that grow in the neighborhood are 
a few wild oranges which give the place its name. The dis- 
tance to the sea is about three hundred y.nrds. 

It required five days of hard labor for the eighty men in 

* A vegetable somewhat resembling a large parsnip, from which, when it is reduced to a 
pulp and washed, a substance like arrow root is obtained. The juice is said to have poison- 
ous properties. 


Capt. Wade's command to haul tlieir seventeen canoes from 
the foot of Lake Worth to Orange Grove Haulover ; the 
whole distance being but six miles. Twenty men were 
needed, in some places, to pull a single canoe. In the saw- 
grass marshes they would sink into the soft mud a foot deep 
at every step, and sometimes up to their middles ; the matted 
grass interposing an additional and even more troublesome 
obstacle to their progress. 

For two miles from the haulover the Little Hillsboro winds 
through the prairie ; the width of the stream increasing grad- 
ually from seven to fifty feet. To the east grow palmettos, 
mangroves and wild figs, and on the west there is a pine bar- 
ren, with palmettos and occasional thickets. A belt of man- 
groves, one hundred feet broad, with openings to the pine 
country behind, then skirts the western bank for five miles. 
The river opens twice into small lakes, and increases in width 
to one hundred feet, when it joins Boca Ratones. 

This sheet of water is a mile and a half wide and three 
quarters of a mile long. The sand bank which separates it 
from the sea is, in one place, only a hundred yards wide. 
Here there was once an inlet. The timbers of a ship lie buried 
in what was formerly the channel. It is said b}^ the Indians 
that many years ago a wrecked vessel drifted on to the bar, 
and, being left there by the receding tide, formed a nucleus 
about which the sand collected and closed the mouth of the 

The creek that forms the southern outlet from Boca Ea- 
tones is twenty feet wide; mangroves growing along the 
banks, whose pendant roots obstruct, to some extent, the 
passage of boats ; which, as the creek narrows, have to be 
finally hauled for a distance of two and a half miles along a 
small and very crooked channel. This conducts to the north 
branch of the Hillsboro, a stream fifty feet broad, lined with 
mangroves, and increasing in size to its mouth, five miles 
distant, where it is about a quarter of a mile in width. 

Hillsboro Inlet runs south for a mile ; leaving a ridge of 


sand, three hundred feet wide, between it and the Ocean. 
It narrows very much towards the entrance, affording a pass- 
age for row-boats only. The depth of water on the bar at 
low tide is about two feet. Five hundred yards from the 
bar the river can generally be forded ; the water being three 
feet in depth. A third of a mile from the mouth a small 
creek comes in from the south. For nearly half a mile its 
sides are lined with mangroves ; the stream gradually nar- 
rowing from thirty to twenty feet, and running between 
banks two feet in height. A mile and a half be3^ond is the 
head, and here it is so narrow as scarcely to afford room for 
the passage of a canoe. A grassy prairie, a mile wide and 
two miles and a half long, sometimes dry and sometimes 
with a few inches of water upon it, leads to the head of 
another small creek. Pine barren still continues upon the 
western side. At a distance of three miles the creek enters 
into New Biver, on the eastern side of which — four miles 
distant — is the site of Fort Lauderdale. 

The second inland ivater route from Fort Jupiter to Fort 
Lauderdale, as has been already stated, diverges from the one 
just described, at the point where the latter leaves Lake 
Worth Creek. An extensive sawgrass pond or marsh ex- 
tends from this place, twelve and a-half miles south, to Cha- 
chi's Village, which is a mile and a-half west of Lake Worth, 
Lagoons of deep water, covered with spatterdocks, are here 
and there to be met with. In inany places, canoes have to 
be pushed and hauled, but at others the water expands into 
grassy lakes, a quarter of a mile in extent, and generally 
from one to two miles apart. To the east can be seen a 
growth of spruce with some pines, and to the west, a line of 
cypress bordering the pine barren back of it. Capt. Wade's 
command were two days in going from Fort Jupiter to Cha- 
chi's Village. The site of this is upon a pretty island, 
bounded on the north and east by a deep clear pond half a 
mile wide, and between a mile and a-half and two miles long. 
On the west and south it is surrounded by the grassy lake. 


The trail to Lake Worth leads, a third of a mile, to a small 
pond, a quarter of a mile across, on the opposite side of 
which is the hanlover. Westward, a trail runs from the vil- 
lage to the swamp bordering the Everglades, the eastern 
boundary of the former being about seven miles distant. 
Capt. Wade's command examined this trail at a time when 
the water was rather low, and did not attempt to take the 
canoes over, as it would have been necessary to haul them 
a mile and a-half over perfectly dry and rather rough ground. 
There were indications that it had been frequently traversed 
in boats during high water. The grassy lake was followed 
by the explormg party two miles and a half to the north- 
west. For the last quarter of a mile the water was but a few 
inches deep. A dry pine barren, more than a mile across, 
through which runs the wagon-road from Fort Jupiter to 
Fort Lauderdale, forms the boundary of the lake. Beyond 
this is a small pond, and an eighth of a mile farther a string 
of them, deep enough to paddle in, and generally not more 
than forty feet apart. At the end of half a mile the water 
again overspreads the surface of the ground to the depth of 
two feet ; dotted with small islands of cypress and pine. 

Leaving Chachi's Village, and travelling six miles a little 
east of south through the grassy lake, where the water con- 
tinues about two feet in depth, the pine barren to the west is 
again encountered at a point where the lake makes into it for 
a short distance. Turning to the Avest, at the end of a mile 
of alternate water and dry land, a series of ponds is arrived 
at. When the water is high, canoes can cross to the Ever- 
glades at this place without difficulty. At ordinary stages 
of the water, some of the haulovers between the ponds are 
three hundred feet across; others not more than forty or 
fifty, and the ponds themselves, at such times, too short to 
admit of canoes being paddled in them. The labor of haul- 
ing is excessive. Five miles beyond, there is a belt of cypress 
marsh, three hundred yards wide, with plenty of water, but 


requiring the constant use of the axe to clear a passage for 
canoes. An open space of a hundred yards then leads to a 
broad boat-trail through a thin cypress growth. This con- 
tinues, four miles, to a kind of haulover, where the cypress 
trees are of large size, and there is no water at most seasons 
of the year. This haulover, which is but four hundred yards 
in width, Capt. Wade's men were five hours in crossing ; 
sinking sometimes several feet into the soft red mud, and 
having to cut a way through the cypress roots and branches, 
which, in a tangled mass, obstructed the way and endangered 
the safety of the canoes. A mile beyond the haulover the 
Everglades commence. The route continues about thirty-five 
miles along the eastern border to the head of Snook Creek, 
which may be followed to Fort Lauderdale. Capt. Wade 
was two days in reaching the fort after entering the Ever- 

At very high stages of the water, many of the difficulties 
met with in examining the two routes now mentioned would 
be obviated, but it is not probable that, under any circum- 
stances, either would be selected, were the object merely to 
pass from one post to the other. The mail is carried from 
Fort Jupiter to Cape Florida, down the strand ; the interve- 
ning waters being crossed on rafts when too deep for wading. 
Small parties can follow the beach in this way during some 
seasons of the year, but it would not be a practicable route 
for the transportation of troops or supplies. The only one 
available for this purpose is the wagon-road already alluded 
to. This road was opened many years ago. It follows the 
pine barren, which extends almost uninterruptedly, a few 
miles from the coast, from Fort Jupiter to Key Biscayne Bay. 
No itinerary of the route has been met with. 


Old Fort Lauderdale is on the right bank of the west branch 
of New Biver, a little more than a mile from its mouth. The 
blanch rises in the Everglades five or six miles to the west of 
the Fort, and runs nearly east through cypress and pine bar- 
ren. Part of the way it flows between steep rocky banks. 
Its average depth is about four feet. It is forty feet wide at 
its source, and about one hundred yards wide at its junction 
with the main river. Opposite this place, on the sand bar 
which separates New River from the ocean and which is but 
a few hundred yards wide, is the site of Fort Lauderdale. 
The location is healthy at all seasons. It can be approached 
by small vessels. When formerly occupied by troops it re- 
ceived supplies by a haulover from the Atlantic. The ordinary 
mode of communication between Forts Lauderdale and Dallas 
is by water. New River, opposite to the former post, is about 
three hundred yards wide and four or five feet deep. It runs 
parallel to the coast, in most places only four or five hundred 
yards from it. The water upon the bar at low tide is but 
little over two feet in depth. From thence to Fort Dallas by 
sea it is about twenty three miles. 

A wagon road, a few miles inland, is laid down upon some 
sketches of the vicinity. It leaves the west branch of New 
River at the site of the old Fort, and runs nearly parallel to 
the coast, passing to the west of a sawgrass marsh which ex- 
tends some miles to the south. It follows, throughout its 
whole extent, a dry belt of country grown up with pine, pal- 
metto, and koontee, and crosses three streams ; the Boca Ra- 
tones, Arch Creek — which is spanned by a natural bridge — and 
Little River. The whole distance by land, from Fort Lauder- 
dale to Fort Dallas, is about twenty five miles. 


Fort Dallas is situated on the north side of Miami River, 
at its mouth. Its excellent harbor and salubrity render the 
location a good one, and, as a military position, it is one of 
the most important in the state. The country in the imme- 
diate vicinity, along the coast and towards the interior, 
between Key Biscayne Bay and the Everglades, is a great 
resort of the Indians. It furnishes a large portion of their 
supply of koontee, and is one of their favorite hunting grounds ; 
besides being the only place where they can pursue a contra- 
band trade. It is the starting point of most of the trails which 
lead to the western border of the Everglades, and to the Indian 
settlements in the Big Cypress Swamp. 

Ascending the Miami Eiver two miles and a half to where 
it forks, and then keeping up the southern branch two miles 
further, a place is arrived at, called Adams' Landing, which 
is upon the eastern edge of the Everglades. 

Ihe Everglades of Florida cover an area of about four 
thousand square miles ; embracing more than one half of the 
portion of the State south of Lake Okeechobee. The sub- 
soil of this vast region is coralline limestone. Upon the 
surface of this, which is very rough and irregular, lies an 
immense accumulation of sand, alluvial deposits, and decayed 
vegetable matter ; forming a mass of quicksand and soft mud, 
from three to ten feet or more in depth, that overspreads all 
but a few points of the first stratum. Upon the mud rests a 
sheet of water, the depth varjdng with the conformation of 
the bottom ; but seldom, at dry seasons, greater than three 
feet. The whole is filled with a rank growth of coarse and 
tough grass, from eight to ten feet high, having a sharp ser- 


rated edge like a saw, from which it obtains its name of 
sawgrass. In many portions of the Everglades this sawgrass 
is so thiek as to be impenetrable, but is intersected by 
numerous narrow and tortuous channels that form a kind of 
labyrinth, where outlets present themselves in every direction ; 
most of them, however, terminating, at longer or shorter 
distances, in an impassable barrier of grass, mud and quick- 
sand. The surface water is quickly affected by rains ; the 
alternate rising and falling during wet seasons being very 
rapid. The difference of level between the highest and 
lowest stages of water is from two to three feet. The general 
surface of the Everglades is therefore subject to great changes; 
the character of marshy lake or mud flat predominating 
accordmg to the wetness or dryness of the season. It is 
probable that, sometimes, more than one half of the surface 
has no water upon it. Besides the mud islands, small keys 
are here and there met with which are dry at all seasons. 
Upon these the soil is very rich. There are many such, un- 
doubtedly, that are often made the sites of Indian gardens. 
In some places, they will be grown up with bushes, appearing 
in the distance like a continuous wood, and occasionally there 
are clumps of pine, cabbage palmetto, cypress, and live oak. 
In the year 1855 Capt. Dawson, First Artillery, made two 
explorations into the Everglades. The first was undertaken 
during the month of March, which is one of the dryest of the 
year ; June and October being ordinarily the rainy months. 
After leaving Adams' landing, the water at first was very shal- 
low, but, in five miles, increased in depth to twenty inches, 
so that the canoes could be poled along instead of being drag- 
ged. The general direction was west, though the route was 
extremely winding and circuitous, so much so that at one time 
when the leading canoe was nearly a mile in advance of the 
rear one by the trail, it was only fifty yards distant from it 
in a direct line. At the end of eighteen miles it was found 
that the usual course to the western side was impracticable, 
and an attempt was made to go around towards the south. 


During the latter part of the second day, long mud banks 
were encountered, in which the men sank to their middles 
while dragging their boats. The course through the inter- 
vening ponds was greatly obstructed by fungi, clumps of 
trees and bushes, and innumerable keys could be seen in all 
directions ; the ground everywhere, however, being boggy 
and wet. The third day, the water became in many places 
too shoal to float the canoes ; the breaks between the ponds 
were of greater extent, and the men were annoyed by the 
sawgrass cutting their feet and limbs while forcing a way 
along. On the fourth day all of the difficulties increased ; 
breaks occurring two or three hundred yards in length, grown 
up with old sawgrass, and without water. The ponds were 
but a few yards across and filled with fungi. The keys were 
smaller, lower, and fewer in number. At the end of the day 
the command had reached a point forty-three miles by the 
trail, and twenty-seven and a half miles in a direct line, from 
Adams' landing, when all progress was barred by a sea of 
tall sawgrass, extending as far as the eye could reach ; occa- 
sional small keys being seen, but no water. 

A second exploration by Capt. Dawson was undertaken 
during the month of June, at which time the surface 
water was more than a foot deeper than before. After six 
days of difficult and laborious exertion he succeeded in 
attaining a point a few miles north-east of Prophet's Land- 
ing^ where fu.rther advance was stopped by the want of 
water. The edge of the Big Cypress was approached to 
within three miles, but it was impossible to get any nearer. 
The distance in a direct line from Fort Dallas to the place 
where the party turned back was fifty -three miles. By the 
trail it was estimated to be one hundred and twenty miles. 
For eighteen miles of this distance, the canoes had to be 
dragged through the mud and sawgrass. 

In December, 1841, the command of Major Childs crossed, 
in four days, from Fort Dallas to Prophet's and Waxy 
Hadjo's landing, and afterwards recrossed the Everglades to 


Fort Lauderdale in about the same time. The first line passed 
over was undoubtedly the same as that traversed by Capt. 
Dawson, but no such obstacles were encountered as were ex- 
perienced by the latter. There appears to have been at that 
time a passage for canoes without having to resort to haul- 
ing. The Indian guide who accompanied Capt. Dawson 
stated that the country was greatly changed since he had 
crossed it sixteen years before, and that the keys were larger 
and more numerous. Settlers, who have resided upon the 
Miami Eiver for ten or twelve years, assert that the gradual 
filling up of the Everglades has been very perceptible. It 
would be reasonable to infer from the nature of the country 
that this must have been the case. The filling up appears 
to have been greatest towards the north and west; the 
southeastern portions always containing most water. The 
late examinations would seem to establish the fact that, at 
present, during dry seasons, the Everglades are impassable. 
Only during high stages of the water would it be possible to 
cross. Even then the passage would be attended with great 

It has been suggested that a direct route for canoes might 
be cut, through the sawgrass and mud banks, from Fort 
Dallas to one of the western landings of the Everglades, 
which would make it possible to pass, at ordinary seasons, 
from one place to the other, besides shortening the travelling 
distance some sixty-five miles. It has not yet been proved, 
however, whether such an undertaking would be practica- 
ble; or, even could it be accomplished, whether — consider- 
ing the rapid growth of vegetable matter — the improvement 
would be at all permanent. 


Much of the country in the vicinity of the Big Cypress 
Swamp possess^ similar features to it, and has been, upon 
nearly all of the maps, included within its boundary. The 
region in question derives its importance from the fact that it 
has for a long period been a principal seat of operations 
against the Seminole Indians, to whom, its peculiar advan- 
tages for subsistence, concealment and defence, render it a 
favorite resort. It forms the western boundary of the Ever 
glades as far north as Waxy Iladjo^s Landing^ from which 
place it runs north-west and west to within six miles of the 
OkoloacoocJiee ; extending then south-east to AssunivaJi's 
Town^ and thence in an irregular line, south of south-west, to 
a point four miles south-east of Boivlegs' Old Town ; thence 
nearly west, crossing the Okoloacoochee, to Old iort Foster, 
and from there, west south-west, nearly to the coast. There 
is considerable cypress growth in the adjoining swampy 
land excluded by this boundary, but it does not predominate. 
Between the Okoloacoochee and the north-western limit of 
the swamp, the country is prairie, dotted over in the southern 
part with pine islands, and, in the northern, with clumps of. 
maple and swamp-ash bushes, with occasional cabbage and 
live oak. In the distance, these resemble a continuous line 
of cypress swamp, but can be distinguished from it — in win- 
ter — by their light greyish color ; cypress having a reddish 
tinge, and — in summer — by the deeper shade of the green of 
the bushes. Pine can easily be detected among others by its 
very deep shade of green. 

* This region was traversed and explored in every direction by Major Hays and Lieut. 
Hartsuff, 2nd. Artillery, during the early part of the year 1S5.5. The information here given 
In regard to it has been obtained from the reports of these oflBcers. 


The north-east corner of the swamp, from a line running 
west from Fort Shackelford^ till it meets one running south 
from Old Depot No. 2, is quite open, containing one large and 
several small prairies. Along the line running south are 
large numbers of live oak hammocks, many of which have 
been cultivated. They are all small; few being iiiore than 
one or two acres in extent, and none exceeding five. Cab- 
bage-trees are abundant. The country is comparatively 
high, and is altogether admirably adapted to the Indians. It 
is so open that wagons can be driven anywhere in it during 
the dry season, but in the wet season it is covered with water 
and the ground is boggy. South of the line running west, 
the cypress is more dense, and the land lower : the open 
spaces are less frequent and not above high water. Wagons 
can be taken in only a few places, and to short distances 
south. Packmules can traverse the southern portion of it 
during dry seasons, but even then with much labor and difi&- 
culty. At wet seasons it is totally impassable. Concerning 
the southern and south-western part of the Big Cypress, little 
is known ; few exploring parties having ever passed through 
it. It is probable that most of it is impracticable, even for 
the Indians, at all seasons of the year. Over the northern 
and north-eastern part, Indian trails run in all directions and 
to every field, garden and hedge. Whenever, in the course 
of explorations, these trails have been deviated from, great 
difficulties or impassable obstacles have been encountered. 

The 0]<:oloacoochee. already referred to, is a long con- 
tinuous kind of marsh or wet prairie, heading a few miles 
southeast of Fort Thompson, varying in width from a few 
hundred yards to two or three miles, and running in a gen- 
eral southerly direction to near the southern edge of the Big 
Cypress. For the first few miles the character of wet prairie 
predominates. For the next twelve, to the point where 
Capt. Ker's route crosses it, it is a succession of boggy 
marshes, small lakes, lily ponds, cypress swamps, cabbage 


and oak hammocks, connected, and entirely impassable, even 
at dry seasons, for man or horse. Between Capt. Ker'a 
route and Fort Keais, after passing through a cypress 
swamp one or two miles in extent, it becomes a low wet 
marsh bprdered in places by maple and swamp ash. From 
Fort Keais south, as far as it has been explored, its banks 
are lined by dense cypress extending some distance back on 
either side. There is no practicable channel north of Fort 
Keais, excepting a short one in the swamp already alluded 
to. There are but two crossing places ; one at the intersec- 
tion of Capt. Ker's route, where the Okoloacoochee is very 
narrow, and the other about five miles farther south. 

A mile from the former crossing, in a grove of pines, is 
the site of Fort Simon Drum. Eoutes diverge from this post 
to almost every part of the Big Cypress. Their general 
character is so much the same as scarcely to require a special 
description. The three principal roads, from which most of 
the others branch, lead to Fort Shackelford, to Temporary 
Depot No. 1, and to old Fort Foster or Temporary Depot 
No. 2.* 

The first of these (Capt. Ker's route) can be traversed by 
wagons as far as Fort Shackelford, during the dry season ; 
places being occasionally met with that are boggy and some- 
what diflicult to cross. Oak and pine islands are seen about 
six miles to the north of the road; often appearing in the 
distance like an unbroken line of forest. Fort Shackelford 
was built in 1855. The blockhouse is situated upon a pine 
island one mile from Waxy Hadjo's landing, near the edge 
of the Everglades, and just within the swamp. The country 
to the south and southwest has been much and recently 
occupied by Indians. Some of the villages are quite large. 

* No traces of old Fort Foster have been discovered during late explorations, but a com- 
parison of the old with recent maps and reports would seem to prove that the sites of these 
two forts must be very near to each other, If not identical. 


Sayn Joneses — three miles and a half west southwest — con- 
taining twenty huts, and Fustenuggee Chopko's — five miles 
and a half south — double that number. This last village is 
on a pine island, and occupies one of the highest points of 
ground that has been found in the whole swamp. The ap- 
proaches to it are diflicult. It cannot be reached at all with 
wagons, and only with great trouble by packmules. There 
are other villages of good size not far distant. The time and 
labor required to explore southwest from Fort Shackelford 
caused the post to be abandoned, as unsuitable for operations 
in that vicinity. An attempt was made to follow south, 
along the edge of the Big Cypress, between it and the Ever- 
glades, but boggy marshes and dense cypress barred all pro- 
gress in that direction. 

The road from Fort Simon Drum to Temporary Depot 
No. 1, leads in a southerly direction along the edge of the 
Okoloacoochee, for nearly four miles, to the crossing, and 
thence eastwardly, over a portion of the country not in- 
cluded within the limits of the Big Cypress. This is prairie, 
interspersed with small hammocks, and entirely covered 
with water at wet seasons ; the southern portion being a suc- 
cession of marshes and ponds. Wagons, during the dry sea- 
son, can go as far as the Depot. In an ordinarily wet season, 
the crossing of the Okoloacoochee, and of some of the ponds to 
be met with during the latter part of the distance, would be 
difl&cult. Unless the water were very high packmules might 
be brought to Bowlegs' Town, which is three miles beyond 
the Depot in a southeasterly direction. Farther south than 
this a Depot could not be established. The cypress swamp 
near by and to the north of this vicinity is quite dense, 
though it is nowhere continuous. Patches of prairie, clumps 
of pine, cabbage and oak, and brush hammocks are scattered 
throughout its whole extent. At certain seasons it is almost 
entirely submerged. The country west of Bowlegs' Town 
does not appear to have been recently inhabited by Indians. 


From Fort Simon Drum to Temporary Depot No. 2, the 
road leads through prairie, pine barren and strips of cypress 
swamp. It is rendered crooked by avoiding diSereat ob- 
structions, but can be easily traversed with wagons during 
the dry season. Several trails are laid down upon the old 
maps, leading south and southwest from the Depot to Malco 
Hiver, but the recent attempts to explore in this direction 
have not been successful ; perhaps owing to the higher state 
of the water in the swamps. Two positions in the neigh- 
borhood of the Depot are designated as good sites for posts ; 
one, four miles northeast of it, and the other, four miles 
north, on the road to Fort Simon Drum, between the head 
of the Cypress swamp which extends to the south, and the 
extensive prairie which commences three hundred yards dis- 
tant, and reaches north to Choalapulka. 

There are certain obstacles to a campaign in the Big 
Cypress at all times. In the pine woods, the palmettos often 
grow so thick and large that horses cannot travel among 
them, nor men without great trouble ; and, in the swamps, 
the thick cypress trees, the underbrush hammocks, and the 
boggy ground form equal or greater obstructions. During 
the dry seasons, however, operations can be conducted with- 
out important difficulties. Cavalry can operate to advantage 
throughout most of the region, though some of the swamps 
and thickets would have to be penetrated on foot. By skirt- 
ing the cypress, openings can almost always be found ; the 
rule being tliat where the cypress is small the ground is firm, 
and, on the contrary, where the trees are large, the ground 
is soft and boggy, and covered with thick undergrowth. 
Large pine trees indicate a thick growth of large palmetto, 
and small pine the reverse. Water can always be obtained 
by digging from two to six feet, and pine islands may be 
found in every direction at convenient distances to camp 
upon. Troops can march with comparative ease upon all of 
the well marked trails, and horses travel over without much 
difficulty. Off the trails it is almost impossible to go in any 


direction. When saturated with water, the ground becomes 
either quicksand or boggy. A campaign over the Big 
Cypress, during the wet season, would be utterly imprac- 

For agricultural purposes the whole region may be con- 
sidered worthless; the few small and scattered hammocks 
being the only portions susceptible of cultivation. 

To the Indian it possesses valuable resources. The means 
of subsistence are inexhaustible. If debarred from cultivat- 
ing his garden or raising stock ; fish, game and fruits supply 
abundant food. The cabbage trees alone would yield an un- 
failing support. In case of hostilities and pursuit, the 
innumerable dense and tangled hammocks, thickets, and lily 
ponds, where the whole tribe might baffle the pursuit of vast- 
ly superior numbers, render the Big Cypress, as a strong- 
hold, almost impregnable. 


The country between the Big Cypress and the Galoosahatchee 
is principally prairie ; with ponds, marshes, pine and oak 
islands, &c., scattered more or less thickly over its surface. 
This region, as well as that in the vicinity of Choalapulka, has 

• From the reports of Lieut. Hvunphreys, Top. Engrs. and Lieut. Hartsuflfj Second Artillery. 


been much used by the Seminoles as a hunting ground. 
During late explorations, few traces of Indians have been seen. 
Here and there, hunting lodges have been found, but no per- 
manent villages, nor recently cultivated fields. 

A wagon road runs nearly west, across the prairie, from 
Fort Simon Drum ; forking at a distance of about four miles 
from the post ; the left branch leading to Fort Myers^ and the 
right to Fort Deynaud. The former, for six miles, passes 
over prairie dotted with willow and pine islands; the re- 
maining distance is through pine woods, with patches of 
prairie, clumps of cypress, and some willow and lily ponds. 
During dry seasons it is good, smooth and hard. In wet 
seasons it is covered wiiii water, and the ground becomes so 
soft as to be entirely impracticable for wagons. 

The branch to Fort Deynaud passes over a country in all 
respects similar to that just described. 

Nine miles east of Okoloacoochee, on the road to Fort 
Shackelford, a wagon trail turns off north towards Fort 
Thompson. For seven miles from the point of leaving the 
Fort Shackelford road the country is low prairie, with 
numerous flag ponds; the whole boggy and impassable in 
the wet season. The rest of the way is through palmettos 
and pine islands, with patches of prairie. The pines increase 
in size and number till within a mile of Fort Thompson. 

Seventeen miles from Fort Thompson the road passes by 
the remains of an old Indian town, from which a trail runs 
to another four miles further west. The first place would be 
a suitable location for a Fort ; the country being high, and 
well timbered with pine and cypress. Palmettos grow near 
by in sufficient quantity for building. 

The route followed by Capt. Ker, between the Caloosa- 
hatchee and the western border of the Big Cypress, is not so 
good as either of the roads above mentioned ; a considerable 
portion of it being over wet prairie and soft ground. 


The Cahosahatchee can be forded, at most seasons of the 
year, at a place two hundred yards east of Fort Thompson. 
The river at the ford is about twenty-five yards wide-, flow- 
ing between abrupt hmestone banks. During the dry 
months there are only one or two feet of water, but marks 
upon the trees indicate that the depth is sometimes as great 
as nine feet. 

Two miles from the crossing the routes to Fort Meade 
diverge. The right hand fork follows the Fort Center 
road over the prairie as far as the Tlathlopo2:>'kahatchee 
or Fish Eating Creeh ; which, where the road strikes it, is 
thirty yards in width, and at low water a foot deep. In the 
rainy seasons the depth of the water is four or five feet. 
The banks are low, and on either side it is swampy for 
about a hundred yards. Ten miles from Fish Eating Creek, 
over open prairie, conducts to Oood Water ^ where the road 
passes through five hundred yards of boggy and difficult 
ground. Continuing for twenty miles over prairie, sand 
hills, and pine country, the trail leads to a marsh of con- 
siderable extent, in which the South Prong of the Big 
Charley Popka takes its rise. The course from there is north- 
easterly, for seven miles, to Lake Istokpoga. 

A better route, as far as this place, might be obtained by 
leaving the road to the right, after crossing Fish Eating 
Creek, and keeping a more westwardly course for ten or 
twelve miles, so as to pass to the west of Good Water; then 
to take a direct course about north ten degrees east to the 

* From a map and report of a reconnoissance by Lieut. Benson, Second Artillery. 


northwest shore of the Lake. Such a route would pass over 
a higher and more favorable country, and avoid the boggy- 
ground in the neighborhood of Good Water and the South 

After leaving the lake, the road runs in a northwest 
direction for a few miles till it enters the marshy grounds 
between the Middle and South Prongs of the Big Charley 
Popka. These grounds are impassable in the wet season. 
In approaching the Middle Prong some high pine country 
is traversed; sand hills appearing to the right. Entering 
these sand hills, the route passes over a high black jack 
ridge, a mile or two west of a string of small lakes that con- 
nect the waters of LoclLapopka and Istokpoga. The course 
is then more to the west, on the ground between the low 
country of the Middle Prong and the sand hills to the 
northeast. The country between the Middle and North 
Prongs is higlier than that farther south. It is wooded with 
pine and black-jack. In the vicinity^ of the North Prong 
there are a few yards of boggy ground. On the north side 
the country is a high pine region, with some palmetto and 
black-jack, as far as the Fort Meade and Kissimmee road. 
This road is followed for five or six miles to Bowlegs Creeh, 
over which there is a bridge. The ground, for some two 
hundred yards east of the creek, is low and boggy. To the 
west, as far as Peas Greek, the road is good ; passing first over 
a pine and palmetto region, then over pine and black-jack, 
and then over a rolling country covered with deadning. Peas 
Creek, at the ford, is thirty yards wide, and at dry seasons 
four feet deep. It can be crossed there without difiiculty. 
Upon the western bank is the site of Fort Meade. 

The other route from Fort Thompson to Fort Meade is 
better and more direct. It follows the left hand fork, from 
the place where the road branches a short distance north of 
the Caloosahatchee, and keeps in a north-westwardly direction 
for nearly thirty miles over the Big Prairie to the road from 
Fort Meade to Fort Myers, which it follows to the former place. 


After leaving Peas Creek the roate follows a blazed trail ; 
crossing at a distance of three miles a small branch where 
the ground is boggy for a little distance. This might be 
turned by keeping more to the east. A mile and a half be- 
yond is Bowlegs Creek, which, at the ford, is five or six 
yards wide, and at high water from five to six feet deep. 
At most seasons, the depth is not greater than three or three 
and a half feet. There are about two hundred yards of low 
ground bordering the creek, when a high pine and palmetto 
country begins and extends to the Little Charley Popka. 
Here, at dry seasons, there is no water at the ford : in rainy 
ones it is about six yards wide and five feet deep. The banks 
are sloping, and the countr}^, for a few hundred yards south, 
low but not boggy. Some very high palmettos grow near by. 
From this place to the Big Charley Popka, the road passes 
generally through a high pine and palmetto region. 

Five or six miles from the first creek, is a small lagoon 
containing good water. At the crossing of the Big Charley 
Popka the stream is twenty yards wide, and, during dry sea- 
sons, about four and a half feet deep. At high water the 
depth is as great as ten or twelve feet, and a good deal of care 
must be observed in endeavoring to cross. The banks are 
sloping ; on the south side rather low, and fringed with live 
oak. The ford, at this place, is said to be the best that can 
be found on the creek. The ground, for three hundred 
yards, is low prairie. Two miles beyond is Oak Creek, 

* From a map anrl report of a reconnoissance made by Lieut. Benson. Sd ArtUleiy. 


which is six yards wide, and at high water three or four feet 
deep. Three miles further south, is a small run where the 
ground is boggy for a short distance. The bog can be 
turned above and below the trail. The road then passes 
over pine and palmetto country — with occasional ponds, dry 
at most seasons — to the Big Prairie, from the border of 
which it is about twelve miles to the Tsalopopkaha tehee or 
IVoui Ealing Creek. In the rainy season, the creek is five 
yards wide and about four feet deep, and easy to ford. In. 
the very dry months it contains no water. The banks are 
covered with live oak. From this place the road passes 
over prairie and pine barren to the southern. fork of Trout 
Eating Creek ; five miles distant. This branch is generally 
dry. The country along the route is prairie for about two 
miles further, when a pine and palmetto region commences, 
and extends to the Caloosahatchee opposite Fort Myers. 

From Bowlegs Creek to Big Prairie the route is blazed. 
From there, for seven miles, to the pine island, it is staked, 
and trenches dug in a direction 'parallel with the course, at 
intervals of three hundred yards. Passing through the west 
end of the pine island, the trees are blazed for a distance of 
two or three hundred yards. To the point of entering the 
pine woods south of the branch of Trout Eating Creek, 
twelve miles beyond, the route is staked or blazed, accord- 
ing as it passes over prairie or through the pines. The 
whole road from Fort Meade may be called a good one. 
Three or four creeks would require bridging, to render it 
practicable at all seasons. There is very little boggy coun- 
try to be passed through. The distance by the trail from 
Fort Meade to Fort Myers is about eighty-five miles. 


Fort Myers is on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee, 
fifteen miles from its mouth. A wagon road leads from the 
post to Forts Deynaud and Thompson, passing over a coun- 
try, low in some places, but generally good. A better road 
still would be obtained by following an Indian trail that runs 
parallel to the wagon route, a mile or two south. 

As high up the river as Fort Deynaud, the Caloosahatchee 
is navigable for vessels of considerable size ; the depth of the 
channel being, in few places, as little as twelve feet. Four 
miles above Fort Myers, the river narrows to less than one 
half its former width, and a string of small islands commen- 
ces, extending for two miles higher up. Just below the 
islands there is an extensive sand bar, upon which the water 
is quite shallow. The bar may be avoided by skirting the 
northern bank. The deepest part of the channel lies on this 
side of the river, and, in passing the islands, it is a good rule 
to keep them all to the south. For five miles above the 
islands, the banks on both sides are very low and lined with 
a thick grove of mangroves, and, on the north side, some 
cabbage palmettos. The nature of the country then suddenly 
changes, and, for the remainder of the distance to Fort Dey- 
naud, the river flows between steep banks from five to tea 
feet in height, covered with cabbage palmettos, cypress, live 
oak, and pine, with a very rank growth of saw palmettos. 

* The information in regard to the Caloosahatchee River, and the portion of the route 
between this river and the mouth of Fish Eating Creek, is taken from the reports of Lieuts. 
Hartsuff, Vincent, and Weed, 2d Artillery — that in regard to Lake Okeechobee, from the 
reports and maps of Lieut. Gunnison, Topographical Engineers, and Capt. Allen and Lieut. 
Benson, Second Artillery. The description of the country east of Lake Okeechobee, is 
from a report by Lieut. Haines, 2d Artillery. 


Eighteen miles above Fort Myers, on the north side, is a 
point where a landing may be effected. The place furnishes 
a good camp ground. The water loses its brackish taste, and 
the current is more rapid than it is below. Between the 
islands and Fort Deynaud, the river is exceedingly crooked, 
and, at some points, wliere the direction suddenly changes 
bars have been formed at the elbows. The channel, however, 
can be readily distinguished. 

Many snags and other obstructions have been already re 
moved, and an expenditure of a moderate amount of labor 
would make the river easily navigable, for vessels of any 
required size, from the mouth to Fort Deynaud. 

From Fort Deynaud there is a good wagon road, which 
continues along the north side of the river till opposite Fort 
Thompson, where it turns off in a north-easterly direction 
over prairie — generally wet — towards Fish Eating Creek, 
The road, after leaving the river, crosses two or three small 
branches, whose banks are fringed with cabbage palmettos, 
brush, and a few scattering live oaks. The last pine is about 
eight miles from Fort Thompson, on the banks and near the 
head of the most northerly branch of the Caloosahatchee. 
Between this river and Fish Eating Creek, the larger portion 
of the prairie is at times submerged, and the ground almost 
always saturated with water. A single day's rain will cause 
a sensible rise in the branches, and in those places that are 
rather lower than the general level. Some distance before 
arriving at Fish Eating Creek, its course can be traced b}'- 
cypress swamps, and a peculiar growth of brush and small 
timber. From the point of the river first seen from the road, 
to where the latter intersects it — three-quarters of a mile 
below — the south bank is fringed with scattering live oaks 
and a few cypress. The road strikes the river at the only 
point where it can be approached, and here, during the wet 
season, the ground would be very boggy for a quarter of a 
mile back from the banks. The stream at the crossing is, 
during low water, twenty yards wide and a foot deep ; the 


bottom is composed of shifting sand, which forms bars 
changing at every considerable rise. The channel is much 
obstructed by old trees. The river from this point makes a 
bend towards the north, and the road keeps on the south side 
of it, two or three miles from its banks, to avoid boggy 
ground, till it again strikes it near Fort Center^ six or seven 
miles below, where further progress, on land, is barred by an 
impassable swamp. 

The site of Fort Center is immediately upon the bank of 
the creek, upon an elevated plateau eight feet in height, and 
extending more than a hundred yards back to a mound 
thirty feet high, and about a hundred and twenty-five feet in 
diameter at the base ; covered with a dense growth of saw 
palmetto. To the west is a slight depression for a hundred 
yards, and then higher ground extending two hundred 
yards further. The nearest pine in sufficient quantity for 
building is twelve miles distant, and there are no accessible 
palmettos within two miles, excepting a very few that are 
scattered here and there on and about the mound. The 
country at Fort Center is much higher and is better suited 
for a post than any other point near the western shore of 
Lake Okeechobee, but it is a sickly position and difficult of 
approach during the wet season. 

Between the Fort and the mouth of the river, there are no 
obstructions excepting occasional floating masses of water 
lily, which can be forced aside with an oar. The stream is 
very crooked ; from fifteen to thirty-five yards wide, and in 
most places more than nine feet deep at low water ; nowhere 
less than about four feet deep. The banks are sloping and 
composed of dark spongy loam. They are seldom well de- 
fined, and never rise more than two feet above low water. 
Excepting at Fort Center, where the south bank is fringed 
with live oak, not a tree of any size grows upon either bank 
for some miles from the mouth. Below the point where the 
road from Fort Thompson crosses the river, there is no place 


'vhere it eas be appraaehed on faoi3EJnek, exceptiBg on 1^ 
soudMni adc, at Fort Craiter. At high trater, nearfj the en- 
tire coastry. for mOes on eitber ade, is eompleteiT sabmexged. 

A<3tJS5 tiie month of the lirer is a oom|M c l ^saoMi bar. orcr 
'wbxii boats dravingbetweoi three and f^ar 59et can ctobe, 
at ibe lowest stages <rf tiie water, to Le^e Ok 

I/ihe fjHaseaiititee preset^ a superik^s cf Tie_ - fatzn- 
dred aqiuaie milea. Its average depth at krr water b aboot 
twelve feet. The sorroondiBg ooraitrr is bat Ettle above its 
ear£ioe, and is moetlv sabmerged during the wel se^»on, 
▼hen the wats" in the lake rises, sranetimes, three feet above 
&e ordinarr level Frcmi near the month of Ffeh Eath^ 
C^'eek. anrand north as hat as Oohancy Bay, the lake is hat- 
d««d b V a bar of while sand : at low water, from, ten to 
thirty feet wide, and from one to fimr feet in ho^it. Baek 
of dis b a hammock, aboot a hundred yards acros. ai^ 
behind this, a swamp Tarying in width from five Imndred 
yards to two or three nm^. From Cohajicy Bay to Cypreas 
Point, die bar and hammock eontimie the same, bat the 
swamp B repiaoe»i by sawgrass marsh, a narrow tongne from 
the Eveigiadis ranniEg as tar nrath as this plaoe.* Fjom 
Cyprras Point aroond towards the sooth and sonth-west 
the shore is much les dearly defined- The Everglades foroi 
4ie general boondaiy, but no disdnct line marks the division 
between thk region and the snr^ce of the lake : thesooihem 
portion of Ae latter being much grown np with grass. Two 
or three pointe of the sonth and west shores have high 
sandv beaches iar a mile or two. There are several ontlets 
near the sonthem eajd : some of these at the month are fcwrty 
or fiftv vards wide and several feet deep, bat are nav^ai^ 
fijr only a few hnndred yards, on aoconnt of the tangled 
weeds. At the extreme soathem point there is one eighty 
varda in width and liavis^le for half a mile. 


The Kissimmee River is the largest and most important of 
the streams that have their outlet in Lake Okeechobee. It 
receives the drainage of a considerable extent of country, 
and establishes a communication, for vessels of small size, be- 
tween the lake and the region for a hundred miles north of 
it. It empties into a little bay at the northern extremity of 
the lake. The sand bar at the entrance to this bay can be 
crossed at low water by vessels of six feet draught.* 

A growth of cypress, more or less dense, extends almost 
entirely around the lake, along or near its shore. There are 
also occasional ash and palmetto trees ; the latter being more 
numerous in the neighborhood of Fort McRae than at any 
other point. At this place also the beach is higher and 
wider than elsewhere; a portion of it not being subject to 
overflow during high stages of the water. 

The lake may be traversed with canoes when the surface 
is smooth. In passing from Fort Center to the eastern 
shore — the distance across, which is more than forty-two 
miles, being too great for a single day's row — two courses 
may be taken ; one towards the northern edge, where places 
to camp upon can be found along the beach, and the other 
towards Observation Island^ which is fourteen miles southeast 
from the mouth of Fish Eating Creek. This island is high 
and covered with large trees. The ground is dry, and the 
place a good one for a camp. 

The only continuous route between the eastern shore of 

• This river and the lakes near its head have been explored and reported upon by Lieut. 
Benson, Second Anillery. From the mouth to Lake Kissimmee, the channel is exceedingly 
tortuoue. At ordinary stages of the water the width of the stream varies from nine to fifty 
yards; the depth from four to sixteen feet, and the current from half a mile to three miles 
per hoar. The banks are generally from three to five feet high, fringed with live oak, maple, 
cabbage, palmetto, and elder ; and the country, a few yards back, low and boggy. The only 
eligible sites for posts are the locations of Forts Kis.simmee and Basinger, and a point on the 
•west bank, a few miles below the latter place. Boats to be employed on this river should 
not be more than sixty or seventy feet long, nor of greater draught than three or four feet. 
The only pine wood that can be obtained is in the neighborhood of Fort Basinger. Lakes 
Kissimmee and Cypress and the strait connecting them are navigable in all places for vessels 
of four feet draught. 


Lake Okeecliobee and Fort Jupiter, that has been traversed 
and reported upon, leads nearly west from Fort McRae to 
Oeneral Eustis' Boad, and along that road to the Fort. The 
trail passes over the hammock that borders the beach ; here 
a hundred yards wide. This hammock can be passed on 
foot by wading from one cypress root to another, and 
making use of the dead branches of trees. The marsh be- 
yond is about a mile and a-half wide, having the same 
character as the Everglades ; the sawgrass being six feet in 
height ; the water of variable depth, and the mud so soft 
that a pole can be thrust down with the hand to a depth of 
from six to ten feet. This marsh can be crossed only at dry 
seasons, and then with great difficulty, by men on foot, 
though unincumbered by arms or burdens of any descrip- 
tion. East of the marsh, the route, for five miles, passes 
over a low pine country, with occasional ponds and marshes 
that can be easily turned. It then crosses another difficult 
marsh, a quarter of a mile wide. From surveys that have 
been made in the vicinity it appears that this marsh might 
be avoided by keeping a mile or two to the north. A high 
pine and palmetto region then commences ; continuing as 
far as the point where the trail from the lake intersects 
General Eustis^ route. This route traverses a low and some- 
what marshy country, but a road practicable for wagons, 
during a greater portion if not all of the year, could be 
easily constructed upon it. 

The old bridge at the crossing of the Locha Hatchee being 
now impracticable, it is necessary to ford the stream at 
a place half a mile above. The crossing is bad ; the bottom 
being muddy and banks boggy. The depth of water is be- 
tween three and four feet. A bridge thirty yards in length, 
with a causeway of a hundred yards at each end, would be 
required to make the road a good one. 

The present site of Fort Jupiter being to the east of Jones' 
Greek, the new road leaves the old trail to the left and 
crosses the creek at a point three miles south of Fort Jupiter. 


The crossing is easy, and the remainder of the distance over 
a good country. 

Should it be considered desirable at any time to establish 
a line of communication across this portion of the State, the 
route just discussed possesses, in many respects, important 
advantages. The travelling distance by it, from coast to 
coast, is about one hundred and fifty miles, and of this dis- 
tance nearly one hundred miles can be traversed by vessels 
of considerable size, at all seasons. A tolerable wagon road, 
that would be practicable, for the transportation of troops 
and supplies, during the greater part if not the whole of the 
year, could be made without difficulty, over all but a mile or 
two of the remaining distance. The sawgrass marsh along 
the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee interposes, for a mile 
and a-half, an obstacle that it would require a vast deal of 
time, labor, and expense to surmount. During the establish- 
ment of the block-house at Fort McRae, this marsh was ex- 
amined as far north as Cohancy Bay, and found to be im- 
practicable below that point. The maps of the Land Office 
indicate that farther north the difficulties would not be so 
great, and the Surveyor-General of Florida has furnished 
information in regard to the strip of country in question, 
that would seem to show that a wagon road might be made 
to cross at certain points with a comparatively small amount 
of trouble. An assistant to the Surveyor-General, Mr. 
Reyes, has explored in this vicinity, and reports that there 
would be no difficulty in getting a road to the lake at either 
of three points ; at Cohancy Bay, or at places seven miles 
and twelve miles respectively farther north. For eighteen 
miles along the shore, the beach is firm sand, being similar 
to the Atlantic opposite St. Augustine. Cohancy Bay has 
plenty of water, and is a good shelter for boats or vessels in 
any storm. Mr. Reyes is of opinion that it would require 
much less labor to make a causeway here than was expended 
opposite to Fort Kissimmee, by General Twiggs' command, 
in 1840, in making a crossing there. The causeway at Fort 


Kissimmec is, for about nine hundred yards, through soft 
marsh. At this place he thinks that the marsh would be 
less than five hundred yards across, and some of it firm. 

It has been strongly recommended by officers who have 
served in this part of Florida, that a small steamer should be 
employed upon Lake Okeechobee, in case operations are to 
be conducted in its neighborhood. The parts of such a 
vessel might be readily transported up the Caloosahatchee 
and across the country to Fort Center, where they could be 
put together and launched. 

The necessity of suspending movements upon the lake 
during rough weather; its exposure to sudden storms, and 
the few places of shelter afforded, render canoes and small 
boats somewhat inefficient. At all times they are necessa- 
rily slow, and their use attended with much labor and 
fatigue. It is evident, from the numerous traces of Indian 
camps and vestiges of canoes found along the shores of the 
lake and upon the banks of the Kissimmee river, that this 
route is a favorite one with the Seminoles in passing from 
their haunts in the Big Cypress and the Everglades to the 
regions north of the Okeechobee. A vessel that could com- 
mand this extensive sheet of water would interfere with, 
these movements of the Indians, and considerably narrow 
their field of operations.